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Sugar Beet Harvest Underway In Southern Alberta

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“The latter half of the growing season has been warmer and we have seen the crops progressing well.”

With a lot of new harvest campaign workers on site for the first time, the 2009 sugar beet harvest started Sept. 29. Sporadic movement of loaded trucks from field to receiving station was a welcome start.

Cindy Bly, fieldman for the western region of the sugar beet-growing region, completed the site safety awareness program for a press visit before noon, and a tiny blip of sugar beets began growing under the end of the conveyor boom of the piler with time to spare between truckloads.

The cleanliness of the beets, some showing excess plant tops, was an indication of the good digging conditions in the fields first opened by farmers, Bly said.

About 29,500 acres of sugar beets will be harvested this fall. The start this year was delayed about a week by the above-normal hot temperatures earlier.

Andrew Llewelyn-Jones of the Lantic sugar factory in Taber anticipates prolonging the early days of harvest to give farmers a chance to dig extra

tonnes of sugar beets since the startup. The company prefers to have enough sugar beets in store to ensure that once the factory starts processing it will have enough supply to keep going.

Llewelyn-Jones said many growers are ready to begin digging their sugar beets, but even at the Taber factory, few growers had started delivering. He said the crop got off to a slow start in the spring, and about 1,600 acres had to be replanted due to mostly wind damage to young plants or wind that dried out the soil. Some frost damage also contributed to the replanting.

“The latter half of the growing season has been warmer and we have seen the crops progressing well,” he said. Lantic has about 200 sugar beet contracts in southern Alberta.

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